Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

4 Reasons Why Attending a Writer’s Conference Is a Really Good Idea

GLAWS presentationOver the past few years, I have had the opportunity and privilege to attend and speak at writer’s conferences in the US and abroad. I find it to be one of the more enjoyable activities I perform as part of my duties.  I think if you are in the midst of a manuscript, or trying to understand what it means to be an author today, attending a well-run writer’s conference can be a good investment of time and money.

It can be overwhelming, but worth it.

If you have never been to a conference, or if you are new to the publishing world, or if you have been previously published through a traditional publisher, attending a writer’s conference can prove very helpful for a number of reasons.

You will be inspired and encouraged by like-minded people.

Writing a book can be a lonely process. Many times, it is you and your notepad and keypad, working through the excitement and doubts of finishing a manuscript. While in most cases, you can find support with friends and family, it is not the same as sharing the experience with someone who knows the joys and struggles of writing a book. But at writer’s conferences, you will find people who know exactly what you are going through. They can provide tips and suggestions. In fact I am always amazed at the relationships, connections and even friendships that can be built in a weekend at a conference.

You will learn about all the options you have as an author.

Speaking at GLAWS

Always enjoy the Q&A at conferences. Spoke recently at the West Coast Writer’s conference. 

It is the best time in history, but it is also the most confusing time to be an author because you have more choice and opportunity than ever before. So it is important you have a clear understanding of what options you have and what publishing path is the best one for you to pursue for your book or project. That’s why it is important to check the keynote and breakout sessions for the conference. If they are only focused on one area of publishing, such as agents, I think that is less optimal.  Look for a schedule that includes a variety of perspectives and experiences. I think that is most beneficial.

You will hear tips on how to improve your skill as a writer.

Writing is a craft and it is work. So it is important to learn from those who have experience and success. As with any skill, you can learn from others and they can help you get better at what you do. For example, one of the best tips I ever heard at a writer’s conference was a successful author shared that she took acting classes. Not because she ever wanted to become an actress, but because she thought doing that would help her write better dialogue in her books. I thought that was brilliant when I heard it and showed what type of commitment it takes to improve your skill.

You will develop a better understanding of marketing.

Most first time authors do not always understand what part they will have to play in marketing their book. In fact for many authors, marketing is a mystery. I personally enjoy speaking about marketing to authors so they can better understand what they need to do to build a platform and a following for their book. Good conferences will include a variety of workshops on marketing so look for those in the schedule in the mean time, I have written a whitepaper titled, The 3 Phases of an Effective Book Marketing Campaign that many authors have found helpful.

So which conference should you attend?

Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend and speak at a number of conferences. I am sure there are more than what I have listed and linked to below, but I can say each of these offers writers  a great opportunity to improve their craft, make some great connections and be inspired to get to their goal. If you plan to attend one of these let me know. I have already committed to speak at some of them and look forward to meeting you in person.

Author Solutions, authors, Editing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

The 4 most important elements of a great novel

The Author Learning Center was created with the purpose to help authors learn from other authors to improve their craft, understand their publishing options, plus gain insights on marketing and bookselling. I have made the statement before that I think it is the most comprehensive resource on the web for aspiring authors to learn about writing, publishing and marketing. The latest example that supports my case is this interview with Meg Waite Clayton, author of Wednesday’s Daughter’s among others.

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t have those, you don’t have a story

In this interview, which was filmed at The San Francisco Writers Conference, Meg shares some practical advice on the key elements to include in a novel that is well written. The interview is only three minutes long and definitely worth the watch, but in case you don’t hit play, here are her recommendations.

  1. Focus on the plot–Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. If you don’t have those, you don’t have a story
  2. Let your characters have flaws–Perfection is not that interesting according to Meg. Anger, frustration, shortcomings–these are the things that make characters interesting and help the reader relate to them.
  3. Deliver the details in an interesting way–Don’t just say the person has blue eyes. Describe the eyes as “dirty blue eyes” which tells you something about the person making the observation as well as the person being described
  4. Pay attention to your word choices— She quotes Mark Twain who says the difference between lightning and lightning bug is one word, but the addition of that one little word makes a huge difference.
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Best-selling author Robert Dugoni shares how rejection can actually help you become a better writer.

I have written many times about how much I respect the way the San Francisco Writers Conference runs their event. The sessions are always quite diverse and the keynote addresses are always top-notch. The other thing I really enjoy is meeting and hearing from authors who have been commercially successful. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, I have found these authors to be humble and encouraging to writers.

Take for example this interview with Robert Dugoni. He is the author of a number of best-sellers, including Bodily Harm, Murder One and The Cyanide Canary. He shares how to turn rejection into motivation to be a better writer.

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Bestselling and prolific Goosebumps author, R.L. Stine shares how he comes up with ideas.

At the San Francisco Writer’s conference this past year, R.L. Stine, bestselling author of the Goosebumps series gave an amazing keynote address. He had some great insights for all authors, but the thing I was most interested in was his discussion of how he comes up with ideas.  What I have said for quite some time is that authors have to find their own way and  method for writing. In this interview, which is featured on the Author Learning Center, Stine informs and inspires and affirms the idea that there is no formula for every writer to use. Enjoy.

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A interview with author Leda Sanford about her book Pure Moxie.

Pure MoxieOne of the great joys of my job is having the opportunity to speak to a wide variety of authors. Their experiences and stories are always inspiring to me. At the San Francisco Writers Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Leda Sanford. Leda, was a very successful executive who broke the glass ceiling and wrote a book to chronicle her experiences. I had the opportunity to ask her some questions about her book. My questions and her answers are below.

  • What inspired you to write your book?

I was inspired by a desire to share with other  women my story of re-invention and success at a time when women were just beginning to examine the adequacy  of their roles as wives and homemakers.  In 1998 when I moved from Manhattan to California   I was constantly asked by women to tell them the story of my life…about ” how I did it” ..and how at 59 I had the courage to leave everything behind and move to California.  This always led to the other question of how did I have the courage to break up my marriage at age 33, and with two children age 5 and 11, get a job in a field I was not educated for  ( magazine business) and within 5 brief years break the glass ceiling in 1975 and become the first female publisher and president of a major American publishing company, and American Home magazine.

How I did it and what were the steps that I took along the way?

What was the “secret” of my survival and success and the continuing response to the age barrier as well as the gender discrimination ?

My  answer at a dinner party when asked this question now is : BUY MY BOOK!

Even though I was “famous” in my field and have many articles to prove it including my Wikipedia listing…  there is the validation that comes from being “an author”…,

  • What do you hope readers will gain from reading the book?

 I hope that readers will draw from my book the courage to explore the dimensions pf their unique destiny while not negating their designated roles and wives ,  mothers and caregivers because there is no better preparation for aging than the power that comes from being a multidimensional person . I hope that the readers will see the importance of having courage rooted in determination and a willingness to accept the possibility of failure without being crushed by it. 

  • You have had extensive experience in publishing. How do you think that helped you in your writing and publishing process?

My many years of writing for magazines and directing and developing the writers ,  editors and art directors who reported to me cultivated  in me the ability to “communicate” through writing, editing and the ability to be brief. Get to the point …Grab the reader..

  •  What tips would you give to aspiring writers who are thinking about publishing?

Read the new York Times especially the Sunday Book Review section.

Avoid critique groups of amateur writers. You can’t learn from these people.

 Submit your writing to the scrutiny of accomplished professionals that you have to pay.

Would you go to a free “doctor.?”

 My best teacher taught me that “Writing is Rewriting.”

Watch C-SPan Book TV on Sat. & Sunday  channel 109

  • What has been the most satisfying thing about publishing a book?

For me he most satisfying thing about publishing a book is the feeling of immortality.

Even though I was “famous” in my field and have many articles to prove it including my Wikipedia listing…  there is the validation that comes from being “an author”…,someone who dedicated  time and energy to sharing their soul with other people . And there is the ego gratification that I enjoy when giving my book to someone or when people come to hear me speak about it..

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4 great tips for every writer from Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

Guy Kawasaki speaking at the San Francisco Writers Conference,

In my last post, I mentioned my attendance again this year at the San Francisco Writer’s conference, which took place back in February. One of the keynote addresses at the conference was given by Guy Kawasaki. Guy has published a dozen books using both traditional publishers and by self-publishing. He most recently self-published a book titled, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepeneur. As he was researching the book, I had conversations with him about the services offered by Author Solutions  and other topics related to self-publishing.  I had never met him till the conference, but in our conversations I always found him to be a very reasonable and insightful person. His keynote only reinforced my opinion. He shared ten tips for authors today. With his permission, I am sharing a few with you in this post and in a  post to come.

  1. Write for the right reasons-According to Guy, writing for money is the wrong reason. Money is a consequence of writing a good book, but it should not be the primary motivation. He suggested there are others, such as enriching people’s lives, furtherng a cause or meeting an intellectual challenge. Could not agree more.
  2. Write everyday-I thought this was interesting challenge, but his point was writing is a skill and the more you practice  it, the better you get at it.  For a busy person, this can be hard to do, but it is a worthy goal.
  3. Build your marketing platform-This is not a new thought. Many have said it, but I thought he had some insights that bear repeating. The first point he made is you should build a platform so that you can “earn the right” to share your book with potential readers. That means you have to give to your audience before you ask them to buy your book.  One of the best ways to do that is “curate” content about the topic your potential book buyers are interested in.  Become a “sector expert” as Guy suggests, offering content that is of interest to your readers. In other words, become the go-t0 person for a particular topic.
  4. Tap the crowd-Seth Godin called this building a tribe, but it is the same idea. Use social media to build a following long before you publish your book. Use them for input on your title and your cover and even as beta readers. Their input will likely improve your book and give you a base of potential customers. Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

Writing is a solo sport, but publishing should be a group activity.

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

3 key takeaways from the San Francisco Writer’s Conference-2013 edition

sfwcLogoThis past weekend, I attended and spoke at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference. I would contend it is one of the best, if not the best writer’s conference, in the country. The variety of speakers and panels and the keynote speeches are quite good. This past year was no different. Keynotes were delivered by:

  1. Bella Andre, the most recent self-published author who has garnered signifcant sales and press recognition. While her story was inspiring, it was interesting that she referenced how many people she has working for her to make sure her books are edited and formatted. I.t reinforced the need to find service providers who can help you.
  2. Guy Kawasaki, who has authored 12 books. Ten were traditionally published. Two were self published. His keynote was exceptional. I plan to do another blog post on the content he shared. Stay tuned. It will be coming shortly.
  3. R.L Stine, author of the best-selling Goosebumps series focused on where ideas come from and his presentation was hilarious and inspiring.

I believe you can order these presentations on the web site and I would encourage you do so. They are all worth the time. However, as I listened to the various presentations, the questions posed to me in my presentation, The Four Paths to Publishing and the conversations I had with many authors, I heard some common themes.

  1. Self publishing was the talk of the conference–Actually that isn’t that surprising given the events of the past year, but it still is amazing to see how quickly the conversation has changed from avoiding self-publishing to embracing it.
  2. Publishing is not an individual sport–No matter what path an author choses to publish, it still requires help from professional resources. There is an illusion that you can do this all by yourself for free, but the reality is you are going to need to either source help or work with an individual or company that helps you find the resources you need to get your book published.
  3. The quality of the writing in the book is still the most important thing–Over and over again, I heard presenters reinforce no matter what path you chose to use for publishing, the most important thing is the book. It should still be the focus of any author. So continue to work on your craft and the vision you have for your book.